Crisis Marketing: Lessons from a Year of COVID

The arrival of March 2021 brings with it a unique milestone, marking one year since the Coronavirus pandemic led to stay-at-home orders across the country. Since then, we have been living through a once-in-a-generation global crisis. It’s been a harrowing year and especially challenging for small businesses.

Knowing how to weather a crisis has been a key skillset for marketers for ages, but the pandemic was uncharted territory. There was no blueprint and many small businesses were figuring everything out as they went along.

Read on as we share three lessons we learned from a year of marketing during the pandemic.

Adaptability is Key

Being able to pivot at a moment’s notice has been a crucial skill for small businesses this past year. At the height of stay-at-home orders, we witnessed our clients’ ingenuity in action. Our friends at Merri-Makers Catering immediately began scheduling virtual tours of their venues. This allowed couples to get a live video tour guided by a member of the Merri-Makers team while social distancing. Meanwhile, Manasquan Bank shifted their focus to their digital banking services and mobile app, ensuring their customers could handle their banking needs from the safety of their homes.

In the midst of a crisis, taking time to stop and evaluate can help determine your next steps. This can include expanding your offerings to adapt to a new situation or a renewed focus on services you already offer.

Your Online Presence is More Important Than Ever

With stay-at-home orders in place, businesses could no longer rely on foot traffic to reach their customers. Maintaining your business’ online presence became an easy way to keep customers informed. This was particularly true for businesses that offered e-commerce, as 62% of shoppers in the US have seen their online shopping habits increase since COVID.

Last year our team outlined several key tasks businesses could follow to help strengthen their brand online. This included ensuring your Google My Business listing was up to date and updating your website to reflect any operational changes.

Know When to Communicate

According to a Valassis survey, nearly 90% of consumers were appreciative of brands who shared “relevant and timely” information during the early days of the pandemic. It was common to see businesses sharing news articles and advice regarding COVID on their social feeds as we learned more about the pandemic. While done with the best of intentions it merely flooded the feeds of their already overwhelmed followers. In times of crisis it’s important to leave the advice to the experts and share posts relevant to your brand and your current state of operations.

In addition to knowing when to communicate, it’s important to know how you should be addressing your followers. Maintaining transparency with your customers has always been a good strategy for building loyalty and enhancing your brand reputation. During the pandemic however, this became vital. Whether sharing your business’ new safety guidelines or announcing a temporary closure due to employee exposure, customers need accurate and straightforward information. Once we enter a state of normalcy consumers will remember which brands were trustworthy during the crisis.

Over the past year we have all adapted with the changes thrown our way. With the arrival of vaccines it seems there is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, the lessons we’ve learned can apply to many situations in the future.

Looking for help with your marketing strategy? Let’s chat! Contact us to get the conversation started.